The phone rang.
It was the end of a long week. It was someone I had never met. And at first, I could barely understand what he was saying. But finally, I figured out he wanted me to come to the hospital to visit him.
To be honest, at first, I didn’t want to go.
It was in the middle of town. Traffic, you know! I was tired. All kinds of selfish reasons.
When I got there, he was lying on the bed, partially paralyzed, with a brace around his neck, and his wife quietly crying beside him.
Apparently, he was a policeman from the rural areas.
He had been in a terrible car wreck just a couple days before as he was trying to catch a criminal. Since they didn’t have a good hospital near where he lived, they brought him to the hospital in Pretoria, which might have been good for his physical condition, but was hard on him spiritually, since he wasn’t near his church, which is why he called me.
“Pastor,” he explained, “everyone is coming and visiting me, and they are sympathizing with me, and talking nicely with me, and even praying with me, but I want to hear the Bible. I want the book. Please read me the Bible.”
As I read the Bible to him, his eyes lit up with joy. He was hurting, he didn’t know what was going to come next, but he just wanted to hear from God. When I finished, he looked up at me and said, “Pastor, thank you, I was just so thirsty for God’s Word.”
Then he told me he was an assistant pastor back home and it was hard, because obviously, there wasn’t a lot of money, which is why he had started working as a policeman. And yet lying there in the hospital bed, looking back, he felt like he was getting distracted, and so now, all he wanted to do – he didn’t talk to me about his legs and getting healthy, or anything like that – no, all he wanted to do was go back and preach the gospel.
As I looked at him, he was in a terrible state physically, but you know what I was thinking to myself? I was thinking, this is a man who is healthy. He may not be able to move his legs, but he’s got something much better. He’s got a heart that longs to know God, a heart that longs to hear from God, and a heart that longs to serve God. And so, you know that while I hope he is able to walk again in this life – of course! – the reality is he’s got something even more important, because he’s got the ability to take his sufferings and use them for God’s glory, and he’s got an eternal hope, that one day he’s going to be with Jesus and never suffer again.
We live in a world that puts a great priority on physical health. I wouldn’t be surprised if your health really mattered to you. I understand! It’s great to feel physically strong and to be physically healthy.
But you know what is even much better? Being godly.
For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Want to be godly even more than you want to be healthy and you will truly be strong.